US broadcaster DISH Network has a reputation for chasing down anyone involved in piracy of its content. From large IPTV providers to resellers, from card-sharing networks to humble buyers, DISH can sculpt a suitable lawsuit for everyone.
Still fresh after obtaining a judgment worth more than half a billion dollars against an IPTV seller in May, DISH quickly filed a new lawsuit against the alleged operators of PrimeStreams, one of the most recognizable brands in the market.
The lawsuit, which alleges large-scale breaches of the Federal Communications Act and the anti-circumvention provisions of the DMCA, is still ongoing. If proven, DISH could be entitled to tens of millions of dollars in damages but in the meantime, DISH is doing what it always does – chasing down other people allegedly connected to the service.
DISH Files Lawsuit Against KTV Streams
In a lawsuit filed at an Ohio district court, DISH and subsidiary Sling TV name William Everly III as the alleged owner of KTV Hosting, also known as KTV Streams. DISH claims that Everly’s KTV IPTV service resold PrimeStreams subscriptions, which reportedly accessed content directly from Sling TV’s servers.
According to the complaint, PrimeStreams acquired TV programming by circumventing protection technologies, including Google’s Widevine DRM, Apple’s FairPlay DRM, and Microsoft’s PlayReady DRM. Once PrimeStreams had access to the content, its operators allegedly monetized the streams by selling subscriptions, either directly to end-users or via a network of resellers operating under their own branding.
The complaint alleges that through his KTV brand, Everly was one such reseller.
KTV Registered as a Business in Ohio
In common with Daniel Scroggins and Steven Daugherty, who allegedly operated PrimeStreams through a company called Dscroggs Investments LLC, Everly officially registered his KTV service as KTV Streams LLC in Ohio, naming himself as the owner.
DISH alleges that Everly bought credits from PrimeStreams and then sold them on to his own customers via ktvhosting.com, which ostensibly offered webhosting plans.
At this point the statements in the lawsuit appear to suggest something that isn’t explicitly said. It involves another well-known streaming and IPTV personality/seller who goes by the name ‘Firestick Steve’.
‘Firestick Steve’ Was Being Targeted By DISH
The ‘Firestick Steve‘ IPTV/streaming brand is well known online and for good reason. Among other things, Firestick Steve’s services were promoted in YouTube videos that appeared completely oblivious to the fact that selling pirate IPTV services is illegal, under civil law (if you’re lucky) and criminal law (if you’re not).
In the complaint filed against PrimeStreams in May, Firestick Steve was mentioned alongside Bing TV and Better Than Cable TV as rebrandings of the PrimeStreams service. In the new lawsuit against Everly, it’s alleged that Everly acquired the customer base of the Firestick Steve operation in April 2022 and merged that into his own KTV Streams/KTV Hosting service.
That certainly lines up with conversations online earlier this year. When Firestick Steve suddenly shut down, former customers received emails advising that someone new had taken over. KTV Hosting was revealed as the new provider and people were able to log in with their old credentials. So what happened to Firestick Steve?
Two People Merge Into One…Maybe..
The complaint alleges that Everly acquired the Firestick Steve customer database from someone who had already received cease-and-desist notices from DISH, which may explain why they were keen to pass former users over. DISH identifies the person who transferred the Firestick Steve (FSS) database to Everly as follows:
“Everly acquired the FSS customer base from Daugherty – one of the defendants in the PrimeStreams case – who at the time was facing legal pressure from Plaintiffs in the form of pre-suit cease and desist demands,” DISH reveals.
“Everly’s acquisition of the FSS customer base included both end users and resellers of the FSS service. On information and belief, FSS users were migrated to Everly’s KTV Service and purchased Device Codes from Everly in the same manner as other KTV Service users.”
At no point does DISH explicitly state that Daugherty and Firestick Steve are the same person. However, the company does state that Daugherty operated rebranded services that utilized the PrimeStreams service and that he was already under pressure from cease-and-desist notices. Daugherty’s name is also linked to social media accounts under the username ‘firesticksteve’.
Whatever the truth, Everly was walking directly into the fire.
Everly Split Users and Resellers
DISH says that after acquiring the FSS database, Everly used KTV Hosting to service former FSS customers who simply bought subscriptions to watch TV, and then started a new service called Tixe Hosting to service the former FSS resellers, who were actually reselling PrimeStreams subscriptions under a different name.
Everyone was advised to keep things as quiet as possible, in particular by not posting the news on Reddit. Of course, that request wasn’t adhered to by some users.
The DISH complaint also includes screenshots from Tixe Hosting’s Discord group where resellers were warned not to mention PrimeStreams by name, to only use their own branding, and – again – to never advertise anything on Reddit.
Messages also advised that if anyone had received a letter from NagraStar, a content protection company partly owned by DISH itself, Tixe Hosting wouldn’t be doing business with them.
Despite knowledge of the PrimeStreams lawsuit as a bare minimum, DISH says that Everly continued the Tixe Hosting operation. Not even a cease-and-desist convinced him to stop.
“Everly was notified on July 15, 2022 that his operation of the Pirate Services violated federal laws and that he must cease and desist from such activity but the Pirate Services continue to operate,” the complaint adds.
As a result, Everly stands accused of large-scale breaches of both the Federal Communications Act and the anti-circumvention provisions of the DMCA, just like the defendants in the PrimeStreams case. It’s impossible to predict the scale of the damages at this stage of the lawsuit but tens of millions of dollars seems realistic.
The DISH lawsuit can be found here (pdf)
From: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.